Ware, Peppers released
A couple of accomplished NFL pass rushers suddenly became available when DeMarcus Ware and Julius Peppers were released to create room under the salary cap in two of the biggest moves at Tuesday’s start of the free-agency signing period. The Bears cut ties with Peppers, who has 118.5 sacks in 12 seasons, as part of a series of moves aimed at improving their defense, including a five-year contract with former Raiders end Lamarr Houston. The Cowboys let Ware and his 117 sacks go. With the cap rising US$10 million to a record US$133 million, a crop of players quickly found new homes as soon as the market officially opened on Tuesday afternoon — and safeties and offensive linemen were popular commodities. About 5.5 hours after free agency began, one of the top players available, three-time Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd, agreed to terms with the Saints, part of a merry-go-round of moves at his position. Other safeties swapping clubs: Michael Jenkins, from Saints to Eagles; Donte Whitner from 49ers to Browns; Antoine Bethea from Colts to 49ers; T.J. Ward from Browns to Broncos; Mike Mitchell from Panthers to Steelers; Ryan Mundy from Giants to Bears.
Nigeria raises bonuses
Nigerian players stand to gain more than US$100,000 each, should the African champions win every game at the World Cup and win the tournament, according to figures submitted to parliament. The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) is requesting that lawmakers approve a 1.2 billion-naira (US$7.2 million) war chest for the Super Eagles’ bid to become the competition’s first African winners. Each player will pocket US$10,000 for every group stage victory, according to the budget, which was submitted on Monday. Wins in the round of 16 carry a US$12,000 bonus, US$15,000 in the quarter-final; US$20,000 in the semi-final; and US$30,000 in the final itself.
Huck out of Larghetti bout
Germany’s Marco Huck has been ruled out of his WBO cruiserweight world title bout against unbeaten challenger Italian Mirko Larghetti on March 29 with a fractured thumb. Huck, who had been aiming to defend his title for a record 13th time, picked up the injury in sparring. His injury is the latest in a series of unfortunate events that has led to the bout being canceled. The WBO Champion was a late addition, having stepped in for IBF cruiserweight champion Yoan Pablo Hernandez, who had originally topped the bill, but withdrew with a viral infection.
Player’s body found
The Saginaw Spirit minor league ice hockey team confirmed that police found the body of 20-year-old player Terry Trafford, who disappeared eight days earlier after receiving discipline from the club in Saginaw, Michigan. The team said on their Web site that Michigan State Police informed officials of the discovery on Tuesday afternoon. The team says it has “reached out to Terry’s parents and will look to provide them with support over the coming days.” State police Lieutenant Brian Cole told the Saginaw News and WJRT-TV on Tuesday that a trooper found a man’s body in an SUV that matched the description of Trafford’s vehicle. Cole said a trooper spotted the vehicle in a Wal-Mart store parking lot in Saginaw County’s Saginaw Township. General Manager Craig Goslin said the team disciplined Trafford for breaking team rules.